Alcohol Abuse Among Teenagers


Unfortunately, the alcohol abuse facts and recent drug and alcohol abuse research demonstrates that teenage alcohol abuse and underage drinking are starting at earlier ages AND are increasing in the U.S. as well as in other developed countries.

What this means is that more and more youth are experiencing the harmful alcohol side effects that are associated with abusive drinking.

It also means that adolescent alcohol abuse is becoming a major problem in most of the developed nations, including the United States.

Teen Alcohol Abuse Research

Research studies show that teen alcohol abuse and underage drinking in the U.S. start at a very early age.

More precisely, the average age when teenagers first try alcohol is 13 years old for girls and 11 years old for boys.


In other words, for many youth, teen alcohol abuse starts even before they are teenagers!

The average age at which Americans begin drinking regularly, according to these research studies is 15.9 years old.

This means that underage drinking and adolescent alcohol abuse is a problem that is becoming more severe in the U.S.

What is more, underage drinking is a problem that is becoming increasing more complex due to the fact that adolescents are drinking at earlier ages.

According to a research project that was undertaken by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), teenagers who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to experience damaging alcohol side effects and develop a dependency on alcohol than those who wait until they are at least 21 years of age before they start drinking.

In fact, according to Joseph A. Califano, Chairman and President of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, "a child who reaches age 21 without smoking, abusing alcohol or using drugs is virtually certain never to do so."

Are these teenage alcohol abuse and teenage alcoholism statistics meaningful? To help answer this question, consider the following.

Research was undertaken in 1998 by American substance abuse researchers to ascertain the total cost associated with the negative outcomes of underage drinking.

The cost was more than $58 billion per year! To help a person comprehend this staggering number, $58 billion dollars is equal to the net worth of 58,000 millionaires!

Teenage alcoholism and teen alcohol abuse are costing our society billions and billions of dollars every year!

A Study By the Department of Health and Human Services

In a 1996 report on teenage alcohol abuse undertaken by the Department of Health and Human Services, the following was discovered:

  1. 33% of the teens surveyed did not understand the unsafe alcohol side effects associated with alcohol intoxication.

  2. 80% of teens did not know that a shot of whiskey has the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce can or bottle of beer.

  3. Most teens don't know the strengths of different alcoholic drinks. For instance, the alcohol content is different in beer, wine, wine coolers, and in whiskey. And to make things more complicated, each form of alcoholic beverage can contain different amounts of alcohol. For example, some beer has a low percentage of alcohol while others have two or three times the alcoholic content.

Teenage Alcohol Abuse is a Social Activity

According to teen alcohol abuse facts and alcohol abuse research, teenage drinking is mainly a social activity.

In fact, teens rarely drink alone. Stated differently, the more a teen drinks, the more likely his or her drinking will be with other teenagers.

And the mere fact that teenagers drink means that they are engaging in adolescent alcohol abuse and starting to experience some of the dangerous alcohol side effects that are correlated with underage drinking.

There are, however, many other reasons besides peer influence that lead to teen drinking and teenage alcohol abuse.

Indeed, the social environment and media influences may also play a key role in a teen's decision to drink.

These external factors, on the other hand, do not explain the whole picture.

That is, according to alcohol and drug addiction experts, various personality traits have been identified that can lead to alcohol abuse by teens.

For instance, teens who have personalities that can be described as under-controlled, sensation or thrill seeking, or impulsive are considered at risk for alcohol abuse.

Other teens who openly reject authority figures or who can't wait to grow up often drink excessively.

Not only this, but emotional problems can also lead to unhealthy alcohol side effects that are associated with adolescent drug and alcohol abuse.

In fact, a study done in the mid-1990s revealed that two-thirds of the teens surveyed stated that they use drugs and alcohol to help them forget about their problems.

One of the main psychological problems faced by teens that can lead to drinking is the dysfunctional nature of their family lifestyle.

Teens with parents who face financial, mental health, or relationship problems may start drinking for comfort.

Not only this, but if one or both of the teens' parents are alcoholic, according to one study, teens may be up to seven times more likely to become alcoholics themselves as compared with teens who have nonalcoholic parents.

What Makes Up One Drink?

Since one drink is defined as containing one-half of an ounce of pure ethyl alcohol, each of the following is considered to be one drink:

  • 10 ounces to 12 ounces of beer at 4% to 5% alcohol content

  • 8 ounces to 12 ounces of wine cooler at 4% to 5% alcohol content

  • 4 ounces to 5 ounces of table wine at 9% to 12% alcohol content

  • 2.5 ounces of fortified wine at 20% alcohol content

  • 1.25 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits at 40% alcohol content

  • 1 ounce of 100 proof distilled spirits at 50% alcohol content

Conclusion: Alcohol Abuse Among Teenagers

As outlined above, the alcohol abuse facts as well as alcohol abuse research studies have demonstrated not only that underage drinking and adolescent alcohol abuse start at a very early age, but that they are beginning at increasingly earlier ages.

And when millions of our youth are abusing alcohol, the roots for teenage alcoholism are firmly set in motion.

The earlier teenagers drink, the more likely they will suffer from a variety of damaging alcohol side effects in the near future.

In short, teen alcohol abuse can eventually manifest itself in a number of damaging and destructive consequences such as teenage alcoholism.

Perhaps the key point to be learned from this is the following statistic from the NIAAA: teenagers who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop a dependency on alcohol than those who begin drinking at 21 years of age.

Equipped with these alcohol abuse facts and information, community leaders, parents, educators, and political leaders need to educate our young people on the dangers of alcohol abuse, underage drinking, and alcohol addiction before they become teenagers, before they become adolescent alcohol abusers, and before they suffer from teenage alcoholism.

Attention teenagers who are currently drinking alcohol. You need to be reminded that the more alcohol you consume in an abusive manner, the more likely it is that you will become an alcoholic.


If this describes you, then you need to be honest with yourself and admit that you have a drinking problem.

Once you have taken this step, either you or your parents need to make it a priority to talk with an alcohol abuse and alcoholism professional about getting alcohol treatment for you as soon as possible.